How many Hartlepool United stars shone in 2016-17?
Clearly not enough after Pools dropped through the Football League trapdoor at the weekend. Here SportMail runs through the squad, player-by-player, in order of squad number and not in order of importance.
1. Trevor Carson: Twelve months ago, the keeper walked away with every award bar the Nobel Peace Prize.
His season was interrupted by a shoulder injury which required surgery and it was a mark of the man that he rushed back, against medical advice, to play against Cheltenham and Doncaster.
Hard to attach much or any blame on his shoulders. There will be interest in him and could be sold 6.
2. Carl Magnay: The same sentiment goes to the defender who suffered ruptured knee ligament damage in September. He too was not scheduled to return as early as he did but he dashed back and tried his utmost.
Has experience of what is needed in the National League and is a good bet to stay. 6
4. Nicky Featherstone: When Pools are on song, then so is this fella and vice-versa. Very adept at moving the ball around and always being available to a team-mate. If you want a Terry Butcher-type skipper then Feathers is not your man, but if you want good football on the deck then look no further.
Even scored a couple this season. 6
5. Rob Jones: Pools seem brilliant at signing central defenders who look brilliant on paper but never play a game. Last season it was Harry Worley who was never fit and this time it was Rob.
Started only three league games and finished just one. 4
6. Matthew Bates: Not quite in the same boat as Jones but only played half a season because of injury. Having been excellent alongside Adam Jackson last season, his brain and calm presence were missed. Almost kept up Pools at the death, having impressed as the temporary boss. 5
7. Nathan Thomas: Winner of the chalk ‘n’ cheese trophy this season. If the awards were done over the calendar year, Nathan would have won the 2016 prize hands down.
Thomas carried on from where he left off last season come August and won the game at Yeovil on his own. But a bad groin injury at Barnet put him out for three months and when he came back he could not re-discover his form. 6
8. Brad Walker: If there was a silver lining to this dark cloud of a season, then it was this guy. Chucked in at centre-half after Bates was injured at Luton, Brad looked like he’d played there all his life.
There were a couple of switch-off moments but, overall, barely put a foot wrong. 7
9. Padraig Amond: Arrived at the club with a big reputation and a mammoth goal haul from his season at Grimsby, where he got the thick end of 40 goals at National League level.
Wouldn’t that be nice next season? But will he stay? You suspect not, but you never know. Ended with 14 goals and goodness knows how many assists. An absolute workhorse up top who scored with right and left feet and his head. 7
10. Billy Paynter: For the second season running, the club captain was beset by Achilles trouble, making only 12 League Two starts.
Finally conceded defeat to his injury late-season and had surgery. A terrific character and motivator, he too made his mark in the Bates gang of four.
His experience and presence would be useful but whether he stays or goes is likely to be decided by economics. 5
11. Rhys Oates: Appeared to be out of favour when he was sent on loan up the road to Gateshead, but lasted just one month at the International Stadium, despite a goal on debut.
Was excellent when played through the middle by Sam Collins when he picked the side against Stevenage and repeated the trick in a couple of other games. Young, strong, runs all day, he’s likely to be kept on. 5
13. Adam Bartlett: Superb as the understudy to Carson last season, he looked set for a long run in the side in 2017 after the Northern Ireland stopper had a shoulder operation.
However, iffy games at Newport and Mansfield prompted boss Dave Jones to replace him with on loan Joe Fryer. Left soon after to take up a ‘day’ job at the Boro and then signed for Darlo. 5
14. Michael Woods: Up and down season from the former Chelsea midfielder, who mixed some typical Woodsy displays with some frustrating afternoons.
When he finished superbly at Cambridge on a Tuesday night two months back it looked as though his winner had kept Pools in the league. But they had to wait until the last day of the campaign for their next win and it came too late. 5
15. Lewis Alessandra: Anyone know who the real Lewie is? The one described on radio as ‘weak as blancmange’ or the vibrant, skilled forward we witnessed on Saturday?
It’s a tricky call. Some days a mild breeze would topple him but there were moments/matches when he looked a cut above. Those goals against Crewe and Exeter were stunning, as was the turn and finish at Blackpool. Will the real Lewis Alessandra step forward please and make it the gifted, sprightly one. 6
17. Nicky Deverdics: Part of the ‘Fab Four’ who arrived in the summer along with Amond, Toto Nsiala and Alessandra. Came with a reputation as a goal-scoring midfielder after finding the net on a regular basis for Dover Athletic in the National League.
But things never really took off for the Geordie whose sub appearances were only just below his start figures. Just the one League Two goal. Filled in well at left-back on a couple of occasions. Perhaps will become a key figure for Pools in the NL? 5
18. Lewis Hawkins: Showed just what he was made of in the final two games of the season when Pools had their backs against the wall with typical determined displays.
Always seems to make a difference when he plays or comes on. The one down side is no goals, following on from just two last season. 6
19. Jordan Richards: Came in from the cold of a half-season loan spell at Alfreton to play at Cheltenham at the end of the season. The best right-back you’ve seen? Maybe not but he’s a home-grown player for whom Pools means the world to him and characters like him could be important to the club. 5
26. Scott Harrison: One of the few pluses of the season after making the central defensive berth his own. Twelve months ago, he was shown the door only to be offered the chance to prove himself in pre-season.
Has done that and he too will be a key man in the National League when the ability to head, tackle and be brave will be paramount. 7
33. Liam Donnelly: If you take out that moment of madness at Leyton Orient it was not a bad season for the versatile former Fulham defender who proved adept on either left or right of defence and centrally too. Not afraid to go in where it hurts. 5
35. Kenton Richardson: Promoted into the first team squad by Sam Collins, this lad got his chance almost by accident, a la Walker. But he looks like he was born to play league football. Tremendous temperament for a young fella. 6
38. Devante Rodney: If you were to list 10 candidates for a player to score two goals to keep Pools up at the weekend he would not have been on it. Signed, reputedly by the head of recruitment, rather than the manager, the teenager, released by Sheff Wed, had looked totally out of place, though he was not alone in his struggles.
But he proved this reporter wrong against Doncaster, scoring two superbly-taken goals and while brief, gave a display which gives hope for the future. Or a move to a bigger club if he has a good agent. 5
42. Joe Fryer: Brought in on loan to keep Bartlett on his toes, he ended up taking his place and sending him into retirement. Well, the next-best-thing, a contract at Darlo.
Fryer did his level best to keep Pools in the Football League and only lost his place at the death to the greater experience of Carson. It would be nice to see him climb up the ladder at the Riverside now Boro are out of the Premier League. 6